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Oh the things you can find on Craigslist if you are looking. Such was the case earlier tonight when I noticed a rack unit that seemed vaguely familiar, the Roland SDE-1000. I could tell I wanted it in less than 1500 milliseconds (ironically the max delay time on this unit). When I met the guy at his house he had it nicely setup with his strat and an amp ready to go for me. He claimed he didn’t know how to use it, but within five seconds I had the feedback cranked and it went into oscillation so quickly it nearly blew his cheap practice amp and sent his dog running out of the room whimpering. Uh, here’s your money, yeah, I gotta go.
A little history. This was one of the first budget digital delays released to the public. First produced in 1983, it was most notable for creating the sounds of, well, I’m not sure that the Edge actually used it, I doubt he did, but you can get some killer Edge tones with this box. I was thinking more like Cocteau Twins (see my demo below around the 4:30 mark for some Robin Guthrie). If you are searching for processed guitar tone then this is it. The delays are all 12 bit…that’s right, 12 bit. Not exactly great when your CDs are 16 bit and everything else is 24 bit nowadays. On the other hand, lo-fi is always in vogue, so win.
Features on this thing: Four memory locations for saving presets, which considering this came out in 1983 makes the DD-20 Gigadelay look terribly late to the party. Adjustable modulation on the delays ranging from slight chorus drone to full on pitch-bending vibrato. Also the standard input gain/feedback/mix controls on the left of the unit, and several unique flavorings on the right. First the Time x2 button which doubles your current delay time. Push it again to go back to the original delay time. Nice for changing the character of the delay while staying in tempo. Also I already figured out a cool trick. Listen to the track below for what sounds like octave pitch shifting up and down. That’s me hitting the button on and off while constant signal is going through the unit. Next is the Delay Phase button which I haven’t figured out yet, but supposedly it changes the character of the modulation on the delays by inverting the phase. Lastly we have two more buttons to turn on/off Modulation and Feedback.
The back panel contains various foot switch control inputs and no MIDI control whatsoever. Also a dry out and a mix out. Nothing fancy like ping pong delay. So far I like it, and can’t really tell much of its so-called grainy character due to the modulation being so thick and sweet. The track below is experimentation during my first 45 minutes with the beast using some moderately high feedback settings just short of oscillation. Don’t fret though, I do manage to lose control of it briefly and it goes into oscillation halfway in. I’m playing through a Fender fat-strat on the bridge pickup (SD Screamin’ Demon) straight into the SDE-1000 and finally into a JC-77 and recorded with a Sennheiser e-835. I’m a fan of Roland Gear in case you couldn’t tell. The faint rattling in the background is unfortunately my fucking radiator.